Monday, April 12, 2010

HT Recommends- WWI and WWII

Recently TB contacted us saying:

I have just read Gifts of War by Mackenzie Ford and Winter of Our World by Carol Ann Lee. Can you recommend other novels set during World War I / World War II?
World War I and particularly World War II are some of my favourite eras to read about, but I haven't read either of the two books that TB mentioned, so after adding both of those to my TBR list I think set about thinking about which books to mention. Where we have reviewed the books mentioned I have linked to the reviews.


Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden
The Summer Before the Storm by Gabriele Willis
The Crimson Portrait by Jody Shields
Barbed Wire and Roses by Peter Yeldham (Australian author, so not sure how accessible he will be for TB)
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
Flanders by Patricia Anthony
A Very Long Engagement by Sebastian Japrisot


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Night by Elie Wiesel
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
The Winston Churchill series by Michael Dobbs (Winston's War, Never Surrender, Churchill's Hour, Churchill's Triumph)
Night of Flames by Douglas W Jacobson
Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher
Maus: A Survivor's Tale Vol 1 and 2 by Art Spiegelman (graphic novels)
Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
Coventry by Helen Humphreys
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
The Persimmon Tree by Bryce Courtenay
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener
The Winds of War and War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk
A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
The Diplomat's Wife by Pam Jennof
The Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jennof
My Enemy's Cradle by Sarah Young
The Kissing Gates by McKenzie Ford
The Wedding Officer by Anthony Capella
The Other Side of Paradise by Margaret Mayhew
Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks

An excellent resource for finding out about books set in WWII is the War Through the Generation challenge blog. This year it is focussed on the Vietnam War, but last year the focus was WWII, and there are many excellent reviews, articles and posts to be found there.

Another excellent lists of reads from this period was composed by Danielle from A Work in Progress and can be found here.

There are so many good books around. Hopefully this gives you a good starting point TB. If there are any must reads that I have missed, please, leave a comment on this post. I am always looking for more books with this setting.


  1. Thanks for these--the early twentieth century through WWII is one of my favorite eras. And Suite Francaise is one of my all-time favorite books--a beautiful book by a writer whose life was cut short by the horror of the Holocaust.

  2. "We That Were Young" by Irene Rathbone is an interesting novel based on Irene and her friends' experiences as VADs, munitions workers, and so forth during WW1.

    "Not So Quiet… Stepdaughters of War" by Helen Zenna Smith also approaches the First World War from a woman's perspective, but is much grittier. It is a fascinating novel about women ambulance drivers in France.

    Gabriele Wills

  3. What an interesting list with some splendid books... for WW2 I would add "Mr Fox" by Barbara Comyns

    Thanks for sharing


  4. Thanks for your rec Hannah!

    Gabriele, both of those sound good! I'm adding them to my TBR list!

    Rowenna, I enjoyed Suite Francaise, but thought that the story was kind of overwhelmed by the personal story of the author as she was writing the book! I've since gone on to read quite a few of her books.

  5. ury Him Among Kings by Elleston Trevor. WWI British brothers. A bit like All Quiet on the Western Front. Personal look at the trenches.

    I also mean to get at some stage Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy. I've read good reviews about them. Also WW1.

  6. I'm going to have to note down some of these new to me titles--I love this era as well!